Ellon Hillwalking Club

Rules and Equipment for members who take part in club outings.

On any walk, we are responsible for ourselves.

Ellon Hillwalking Club walks are not led by a club member who takes responsibility for the safety and welfare of the group.

A committee member is designated as the ‘focal point’ for a day walk or weekend outing. This person is not a walk leader. He or she fulfils the administrative role of collecting names for the outing and ensuring that a walk report is written but does not necessarily take part in the event.

Members are responsible for their own conduct and safety. The club has, however, expectations of anyone taking part in a walk which are expressed through the following guidelines.

You should be sufficiently fit and well to take part in the planned walk.

A reasonable level of fitness is required to take part in any of our outings and some of them are very demanding mountain walks. You should find out about the planned walk and be realistic about your ability to undertake it.

If you are unwell, you should not take part in a hillwalk.

If these guidelines are ignored, it could lead to the outing having to be modified because of your inability to undertake it or worse, a crisis arising during the outing.

You should be reasonably competent in the use of a map and compass and carry them with you on the walk.

If you don’t have these and/or are not competent in their use, you must make the group aware of this and ensure that you do not get separated from the group. You are going to have some difficulty in taking responsibility for yourself and must accept that you are taking a serious risk.

Many people now have GPSs, some of which include map displays. These are very useful but it is still advisable to also carry a map and compass.

If you want to improve your map and compass skills during a walk, let one of the more experienced members of the club know, and he or she will generally be very happy to work with you during the walk.

You should be appropriately dressed and equipped for the walk.

The clothing and equipment required for a hillwalk will clearly depend upon the nature of the walk, time of year and prevailing weather conditions.

In general, clothing should be loose fitting and comfortable. The ‘layer principle’ is the usual way of providing warmth whilst retaining the flexibility required in the Scottish climate. Air trapped between the layers and within the fibres of the cloth provides insulation.

The base layer should transfer moisture away from the body and retain a dry microclimate next to the skin. Thermal underwear, usually made from synthetic materials, gradually transports moisture away from the body through a wicking process.

The mid layer provides most of the insulation. Wool is still very effective but a wide variety of fleeces, also usually made from synthetic material, are now available.

The outer or shell layer keeps wind and water away from the insulating layer. Gore-Tex revolutionised waterproof garments as they allow water vapour to escape while shedding water. There is now a wide range of materials available which do this.

These layers can be added to or removed depending upon the weather and level of exertion. In very cold weather, more than one insulating layer may be worn, or carried in the rucksack to be used if required, along with a complete layer of thermal underwear.

In summer, shorts and T-shirt may suffice but a jersey/fleece, trousers of some kind and waterproofs should always be carried.

Footwear is obviously very important. As our walks could always venture off main tracks, boots are essential to provide support and protection for the foot when travelling over rough terrain. Ideally, these should have a stiffish sole and water proof uppers. There is an enormous range of boots available and all of the good outdoor shops will provide advice on what to buy. Boots generally require a few outings before they mould to our feet

Gaiters, though not essential, help to keep feet warm and dry in soggy conditions.

The following items should always be carried as personal equipment:

  • Spare clothing (type and amount will depend upon conditions);
  • Hat;
  • Gloves;
  • Waterproof jacket and trousers;
  • First aid kit. This should include basic first aid materials and items such as midge protection and sun cream when appropriate;
  • Map and compass -see above;
  • Torch with spare bulb batteries;
  • Whistle for summoning help in an emergency;
  • Bivvy bag or personal shelter for keeping warm and dry in an emergency.

In addition an adequate supply of food and drink, including some emergency rations, should also be carried.

Whilst it is always wise to carry a mobile phone for use in an emergency it cannot be relied on for communications in the hills as there is often no reception.

Specialist equipment such as ropes, ice axes and crampons will not generally be required on programmed outings.

You should walk with the group and, at all times, maintain an awareness of other members of the group and their needs.

Club outings are group activities. Some outings may split into sub-groups but if you have chosen to be part of a group, you should be in a position to communicate with other members of the group at all times. The group should accept a responsibility to look after each other. If someone becomes unwell or starts to struggle for some reason, support will be needed. This cannot be given if the group is spread out over a few hundred metres and the people at the front are not aware of what is happening at the rear of the group. Likewise, if someone wanders off from the route being followed, and is out of sight of the group, help will not be available if it is needed.